Setting up a related posts sidebar widget with thumbnails is a great way how you can increase visitor engagement when you’re running a WordPress blog. By default WordPress comes with just a recent posts widget that you can slap on to the sidebar of your blog. Related posts sidebar widget is much more likely to be clicked, and if it has thumbnails, then the chances for suggested posts to be clicked are even higher.
Hopefully by the time that you’ll be reading this the related posts sidebar widget that I’m using will still be active and you’ll be able to see in in the sidebar to the right. If not, if I found something better, then you can use the screenshot above as a reference. As you can see thumbnails are very big which will make the related posts too tempting for the readers not to click on them. 😉
The reason why related posts widget with thumbnails might be too tempting for the readers not to click on it is because for the most part it will actually suggest articles that are related to the one that the visitor is reading and a thumbnail will make it more easily seen and therefore clicked.
Related posts sidebar widget with thumbnails for WordPress that I’m using was easily added by installing a plugin called Easy Related Posts. Not only that you get a related posts sidebar widget, it also adds related post suggestions at the bottom of the post and it shows a pop-up notifications with related posts that appear at the bottom of the browser window as the user scrolls through the page.
Widget is added to sidebar by opening up Appearance >> Widgets from the WordPress dashboard. If you’re having problems with user engagement on your blog, then with Easy Related Posts plugin you might be able to improve your situation. I’m currently using it and I gotta tell you that by combining this plugin and AddThis Smart Layers I’m seeing an increase in visit duration and pageviewes generated per visitor.